Strengths and Weaknesses of Science and Technology Institutions in Arab countries

Project description

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Challenges (SWOC) analysis of Arab countries innovation and research activities is a difficult exercise on various grounds. First, for most of the countries, science and innovation policy as such has still not been implemented. Nevertheless, but looking at each country individually, one can find an important activity that is dispersed over various policy agencies and ministries, performing institutions, and social and economic actors.

A first appraisal of the innovation policies in some Arab countries has concluded that measures to promote innovation cannot be evaluated properly because of lack of comparative standards (Arvanitis & M’henni, 2010). Direct measures to promote innovation through SME-oriented programmes, technoparks and incubators are easy to measure: however even this is not done, in particular because statistics on the productive sectors are not sufficient. What is also appearing after some more than 10 years of systematic efforts in various countries is that policies have usually been short-termed and success is expected to be easy and immediate. If this does not happen, the policy impact is very low. Long-term efforts are thus not encouraged. Examples like Berytech incubator in Beirut or the El-Ghazala pole of technology in Tunis are thus quite exceptional since they survived far beyond the usual short-term experiences. It is interesting to note that Berytech owes its extraordinary longevity and success to the fact that it is an autonomous management experience based on the permanent institutional support of Université Saint-Joseph; El-Ghazala, owes a great part of its longevity to the existence of the school of telecommunications, even though the companies that are inside the technopark do not have as strong linkages with the school as might be expected. In both cases, support is not in terms of money but rather in terms of creating an institutional background. These two examples, taking place in what can be probably considered the most contrary types of national research and innovation systems, the most decentralized and the most centralized systems of governance of science and technology, show that the question of the relations between the private and the public, the enterprises and the State, is not a simple matter of either promoting the public or the private sector. On the contrary, it is the policy mix that makes the difference and the ability to engage in combined policies. The major strengths thus would be in all countries to create these public and private linkages, that go far beyond financial support and relate to the creation of an ecosystem conductive to technological development.

The analysis in this research wants to advance in this direction and should be thought of as a first step toward establishing a list of strengths and weaknesses, taking into account the diverse innovation worlds in the various countries.


First name Last name Gender Rank Affiliated Institution Country
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Female Lebanon

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